Google Translate helps journalists in a globalizing world

By BOLTON LANCASTER

In today’s world, news spreads throughout the Internet in a matter of seconds.

American news corporations immediately gobbled up news posted from Syria about the rebellion while countries across the globe eagerly waited to hear news about the election of President Obama. Even the temporary stardom of then-Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin encouraged enormous flocks of reporters from Asian media companies to attend games and write about them for readers back home.

With the increasing globalization of the planet, language barriers can be a problem for rapid distribution of news. While major news organizations have the means to translate words from one language to another, independent journalists and bloggers are often left at a disadvantage. Google Translate (http://translate.google.com/) serves as an effective way for journalists to gather information for stories as well as communicate with international sources.

One of the perks of Google Translate is that it does not simply translate individual words, but entire phrases. Instead of just serving as a dictionary, it can take whole quotes in other languages and translate them. For example, English to Spanish Google translation of “Who won the game?” is “¿Quién ganó el juego?” However, translating the phrase word for word would result in a phrase that looked more like “¿Quién won la juego?” Google is able to translate phrases because they use a statistical matching approach with their program rather than a dictionary and grammar rules approach.

Another convenient way to use Google Translate is to change the language of an entire website. In order to do this, simply copy and paste the link of the website within the Google Translate box and another link will show up in the other box. Click on this link to be directed towards the same web page but in a different language. This can be particularly useful to journalists attempting to look for facts on international news web pages. This is a link to the English version of the El Nuevo Herald homepage, the Spanish Miami newspaper:

http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=en&tl=es&js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&u=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.elnuevoherald.com%2F&act=url

Google Translate is not without any flaws, however. Since the program does not use a dictionary or grammar rules approach, there are often errors in translation and sentence meaning is sometimes inverted. This can be seen on the English translation page of El Nuevo Herald. While an English reader can understand the basic idea of the story, some of the language is a little choppy and does not make sense. For these reasons, Google Translate should not be relied upon to completely translate stories for international readers.

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